For Pelham Bay locals, Catania Shoe Store was the sole of their neighborhood.
When the store closed last December, many area residents mourned the loss of the beloved business, in the community for 82 years.
Luckily, the store’s loyal customers won’t have far to walk to shop for shoes.
Florsheim Shoes opened its doors for business on February 5 in the same location 3015 Westchester Ave., a perfect fit in the previous store’s space and in the neighborhood.
Store manager John Marxuach said he has been in the business for 40 years.
Now working for new owner Joseph Kohan, he previously worked for Allen Gedler, the owner of Catania Shoes who retired after 40 years in the business.
“I worked with the previous owner for 25 years,” Marxuach said. “I got involved in the business through a mutual friend, it was just by chance. I was in college and it was a job – but it turned into a career.”
Marxuach said the new owner picked the store because it is in a prime location.
“The previous store was here for 82 years,” Marxuach said. “We feel we can have this shoe store for another 82 years.”
He said the new store is ideal for all members of the family, carrying all of the brands the previous owner carried, plus much more.
“We cater to men, women, boys, girls, toddlers, and now perfumes, pocketbooks,” Marxuach said. “There’s a variety.”
Marxuach said what makes Florsheim different than other neighborhood shoe stores is the variety of items they carry and their specialization in wider shoes.
“We carry extra wides for women and men,” he said. “That’s a big thing now. Most department stores only carry regular widths.”
The store now has three employees, but Marxuach said he is looking to hire a fourth.
“Come in and ask to see John,” he said.
Kohan said he is excited to have opened a store in such a great location,
“It’s a very good neighborhood, a very warm neighborhood,” Kohan said. “I am very excited to open a store here and I will try my best to cater to all the different kinds of people that live in the area.”
Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3394